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playgroundlover
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
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15 Oct 2019, 8:19 pm

Hi everybody,
I am a teacher's assistant in an elementary school full time and I love the job but honestly, some days are more stressful than others and today was one of those days. One of my students is a child with ADHD and depression. While he doesn't have special ed, he does have many accomodations daily in the classroom including support staff (me) at certain times throughout the day and a behavioral plan which allows him to earn points towards prefered activities twice daily. He needs supports with academics as well as social and emotional support.
Many times I work with this particular student and I see small parts of myself when I was his age inside of him (not the depression but the other impairments). For example, sometimes he will pick up a sticky note or a small trinket and begin playing with it during a lesson and the teacher will yell at him to pay attention and tell him he is off task, or he may need assistance writing because he has trouble keeping up with his peers and the teacher has told me several times that I am not allowed to write for him anymore. I look at him and I see the frustration in his eyes and sometimes it's really stressful. I spend everyday fighting for his needs even when others want him to be as normal as possible, do things that the other kids are doing when they are doing them, and not shut down. The teacher wants him to work really hard on doing the work independently because next year he is going to middle school and she doesn't think he will get as much help and support. Most times, he tells me to go away because he doesn't need me and I make everything worse but I stay around because I know that when he is having a really hard time and is shutting down in the corner crying, he trusts me and will usually let me help him.
Today was one of his worst days. He earned almost all 0's for points. He had a meltdown in math because again, I can't write for him and he was really far behind. He made some inappropriate gestures which immediately needed to be written up. PE was worse because he was being unsafe. I am a very small woman and it's hard for me to get physical with the students. I've never had to perform a restraint but I'm nervous about what might happen if I do. I almost did with him but he calmed down, temporarily. When I checked on him later in the day, he made some self injurious comments to me that I immediately reported to the teacher. He was told to leave and had to be physically guided out of the classroom. The principal and social worked needed to be involved. Now, while this is going on, I have an issue where I laugh at inappropriate times. I believe it is related to my condition (Asperger's Syndrome). So, I was laughing the entire time trying really hard to hide it because I knew it was uncalled for, but I couldn't help it. (Plus, I think subconsciously I like the day to day pushback because it means he will need me longer and I won't have to face the pain of leaving him) But this time, I really wasn't happy, the laugh just came out. And I felt like I couldn't look people in the eye when they were asking me about him because they would see the laughter.
I have many concerns regarding all of these things. First off, I think I have broken his trust towards me because now, he doesn't feel like he can tell me his thought and feelings in case I go and report them to the school. I don't want him to think that I have betrayed his trust but rather I want him to see that I love him and that I will do whatever I have to do in order to keep him safe and healthy. My other concern is that he lied to the principal, teacher, and social worker, denying all of the statements and gestures he made. I did everything on my end. I reported the incidents and properly documented them and yet, I still don't feel like I did enough. What if he goes home and hurts himself? People who are depressed are not going to admit to saying self harmful statements. I want to be the one to help this student. I really want to give all that I have to him to keep him healthy and safe but he needs more help than I can provide. He needs serious help from someone like a therapist. I think that's what's the most stressful part. Knowing that I can't always be there and fix this child. I can't make his pain go away. All I can do is sit by him for 3 classes a day and watch him suffer while trying to give my love. It sometimes wears me out. I'm just looking for people who understand. :roll:
Thank you all for listening to my story.



smudge
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16 Oct 2019, 1:28 am

I remember I used to daydream all the time at school and would get yelled at. I had TAs (teaching assistants) who would write for me and they didn't help me learn. The only TA who made a real difference while inside a classroom was in my accountancy class, she had the hardest qualification herself and was excellent with me. She would write notes for me and explain things to me at the same time. She would ask me questions along the way to make sure I understood too, the other TAs didn't do that. She was slightly distant, understanding of me, listened to me and was very professional, I loved her for it. She didn't highlight any of my difficulties nor made a display of them. Somehow she knew what Asperger's was too.

I think I can see a few problems in your methods, one is that I don't think he or the teachers are liking your love for the student. Maybe it would be better for him if you backed off emotionally, I get the feeling your loving him might be smothering him. So distancing yourself from him and trying to be less motherly towards him I think would work. I also think he hates having his difficulties highlighted. The problem is you immediately "told on him" to the teacher so he is going to trust you far less. Be subtle if you need to do it, otherwise he won't open up in future, and will think you're highlighting all the things that is wrong (or maybe in his mind, terribly wrong) about him. Secondly, I think just writing for him won't help him, but I agree he needs some kind of help to be taught. I think for me the one to one thing with my helpful TA helped me so much because it meant it was easier to stop from drifting off into my own world (which I would do involuntarily all the time).

Irrelevant, but I feel the need to include that I did have a couple of excellent other TAs, while at college, I just wrote about her because she was particularly good.

Also, I was never taught this method until after I left school, which was a shame, but anyway, teach him to use a highlighter to highlight important words to learn in class notes, and notes written from books. Then, if he has the ability to, teach him to make his own notes.

Then in senior school I would teach him to make his notes as concise as possible. Teaching him how to exclude irrelevant parts of a book, and ask him what words and sentences are important and what they mean, then explain to him. But that's senior school.



CubsBullsBears
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16 Oct 2019, 3:20 am

Where he is right now sounds a lot like where I was in 5th grade, except I had/have Aspergers. I’ll just say that if my experience is any indication, the teacher may be right about some of his supports being stripped from him next year. In 5th grade, I was prone to have major blowups. I wasn’t in my main classes all the time. I had matured a little bit during that year and the following summer, but that wasn’t enough to stop the disaster that awaited me when I became a 6th grader at the middle school. I did go to my classes, but I was assigned SO. MUCH. HOMEWORK. When I didn’t do it, I got a detention. And another detention. And another detention. And another detention.

I got so many detentions that year, and a lot of them were because I walked into the school without doing all or none of ONE NIGHT’S worth of HW.

Another thing about that year was that I suddenly had a desire to have friends and/or a girlfriend. Because of this change of heart, I decided to become, well, as neurotypical as I possibly could. I moved to a different school and I had my bumps in the road as an aspie teen, but I certainly wasn’t who I was before.

That being said, I think that they should find a good balance between helping him towards success while also accepting who he is right now. I think it’s likely that one of these days, he’ll grow out of how he is now and won’t need the same accommodations. Since that won’t happen overnight, it’s really out of line for the teacher to try to get him to be like everyone else.

HE ISN’T! HE HAS DIFFERENT NEEDS!

But to be fair to her, maybe with her knowing what it’s like at the middle school, she just wants to warn him with what’s to come.

Still, I think maybe that whole school district isn’t what’s best for him. Now, I’m going to guess that the you’re working at one of the more smaller school districts? Because where I went to, it was smaller. I moved to a bigger school where they had more recourses to accommodate me. I never got a single detention after 6th grade either!

So, yeah. I really do feel your pain about not being able to help him.

I think the best course of action is to share your concerns with his parents. I think he’d have a hard time entirely trusting you at this point, but if the parents know what’s going on, they can try to talk thing over with him/get him the help he needs.



playgroundlover
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16 Oct 2019, 8:46 pm

So, today was a little bit better with him. I do understand what you guys are saying about trying to back off emotionally but it's not easy seeing as I have spent a lot of time and effort with him and I am a stable and constant person in his life at school. I am also happy to report that I have not completely lost his trust despite what happened yesterday. However, I just want to state that yes, perhaps I should have found a more subtle way of telling on him but it's my job to report it. If I didn't report those things I could've gotten in serious trouble. Plus, I care so much about him that I don't ever want to see anything bad happen to him.
The teacher is coming around. She is really nice but the main problem is, no one told her that this student was going to be in her class ahead of time. Someone just printed out a copy of his plan on the first day of school and handed it to her. She has been flying blind since the beginning of school. I have been working with her and trying to explain to her his needs because I was with him last year and she has been very receptive to that.
As far as me helping him learn, I am one of the few people including the teacher that will actually get down on the floor with this child and talk him through his problems. I always try to work one on one with him to teach him the lessons that he misses in class. When he doesn't pay attention and then doesn't know what to do, I stand or sit next to him and walk him through the problems step by step until the task is complete. Then I always follow it up with a high-five and/or positive praise.
I just want him to know that people in school actually love and care about him. I want to be his "rock." Someone he can lean on for emotional support when he feels upset. He had a really negative teacher the year before I was with him which didn't help with his self esteem. He still references her as such to this day. I'm going to continue to do everything I can for this child and just pray that he is able to grow emotionally and progress over time.
Thank you all again for listening. :-|